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Dewey's Ethical Justification for Public Deliberation Democracy

From: Education and Culture
Volume 29, Number 1, 2013
pp. 3-26 | 10.1353/eac.2013.0006



Interpretations of John Dewey's political theory grasp his respect for public deliberation, but typically overlook his ethical justification for democracy. Dewey gave two primary reasons why democracy is superior to other forms of government. First, a public educated in the tools of social intelligence can be more effective at managing their social conflicts. Second, all people have an ethical right to become as valuable to their communities as they can become. Dewey judged that only democracy ensures each person's ethical right to participate in social deliberation for the entire community's benefit. Dewey's model of social deliberation, "public deliberation polyarchy," applies a kind of "logic" for collective action, a process effective because of its ethical foundations.

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